Nation Bombing For Africa Instead of Nation Building

April 5, 2011  |  

The U.S. Department of Commerce has closed its doors in Ghana.  It was done with neither explanation nor expansive news coverage. And given that the closure came the same week in which President Obama addressed the nation regarding our military campaign in Libya, it was both odd and ironic. Add to the equation that when Obama visited Ghana in 2009 he touted it and other African nations as important trade partners, and any reasonable person would be caught scratching their head.

Last I checked, the U.S. was still trying to recover from its greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.  How does closing up shop in Ghana increase the options of U.S.-based multinational corporations?  Since when have the primary Ghanaian exports of gold and cocoa depreciated in value or been of little consequence to the United States?  It makes no sense financially or politically on any level.

If the U.S. is about the business of exporting democracy around the globe (and it is), how does that not include the economic infrastructure to support it?  It sends the message globally that the money of Ghana specifically is somehow not worth spending and the continent more generally not worth developing.  Ghana has long been the shining example of African democracy and capitalism.  Such a move by the Obama administration contradicts stated political and economic agendas.

Maybe “nation-building” only applies to those countries which can help sway U.S. presidential elections. Waging war against an African nation with Muslim undertones likely garners more electoral college clout than corporate trade with another.  Nevertheless, there fails to be any explanation as to why we’ve thrown in the towel on Ghana.  Trade with Ghana and bombing Libya ostensibly should not be mutually exclusive.

To be fair, the policy shift does not preclude companies from going in on their own and building direct economic bridges with Ghana — that too should be given serious consideration.  At the same time, however, the involvement of the U.S. Department of Commerce allows a wider channel for trade and thus a larger benefit for both companies and countries.

The consistent drumbeat of recent years has been that the continent of Africa will be the next battleground in the war on terror.  The argument suggests that dictatorships and abject poverty serve as fertile breeding grounds for anti-American sentiment.  This is all the more reason to position America as being about the business of building African nations — not just bombing them.

What’s more distressing is the not-so-subtle manner in which President Obama has continued to connect the supposed dots between the war on terror, the military intervention in Libya and the Bush Doctrine.  Let’s look back at the first paragraph of his recent speech on Libya:

“I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism. They have moved with incredible speed and strength. Because of them and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved. Meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al Qaeda around the globe.”

All nicely tied together with a bow, complete with a not-so-random al Qaeda reference.

African-Americans may or may not be emotionally impacted by our African military and economic strategy.  We are not a monolithic group and it would be presumptuous to assume there is a consistent level of concern for what happens in the motherland.  But as long as the multitude of us willingly refer to one-another as “African-Americans,” the economic relationship of the United States with Ghana can not be ignored.


Morris W. O’Kelly (Mo’Kelly) is author of the syndicated entertainment and socio-political column The Mo’Kelly Report. For more Mo’Kelly, Mo’Kelly can be reached at and he welcomes all commentary. Follow Morris W. O’Kelly on Twitter: @mrmokelly


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